Read this fascinating piece by Olga Khazan about researchers who found that children who lived on lower floors in a high-rise building near a highway in Manhattan had a harder time distinguishing words than kids living on higher floors and they were worse at reading. Frighteningly, “[t]he relationship between the kids’ scores and floor level was strongest for the kids who had lived in the building the longest.”
Noise is more than an annoyance when it can interfere with learning.
Schumer urges Port Authority to expedite noise studies addressing “airplane noise being emanated over the communities closest to John F. Kennedy International Airport on the South Shore of Queens such as the Five Towns and several others, and LaGuardia Airport on the North Shore of the borough.”
New York City has a noise code [pdf warning]. It’s pretty comprehensive and is looked to as a model for other cities. So why the rise in noise complaints? One reason the article notes is this: Police said writing noise complaint tickets is to an officer’s discretion.
Police probably do not have the training and equipment to properly monitor noise complaints, and noise is probably low on the priority list. If cities are going to seriously address noise pollution, they need to have a designated team of professionals to investigate noise complaints and issue citations. Until that happens statutes will rarely be enforced and noise polluters will continue unabated.
The article discusses Action on Hearing Loss’s “Speak Easy” campaign which takes aim at high noise levels in restaurant chains. The charity conducted a survey of nearly 1,500 people across the UK and found that “eight out of ten people have left a restaurant, cafe or pub early due to noise levels” and that 91% said that they “would not return to a venue they considered to be too noisy.” Armed with the statistics, the charity “produced a practical guide to help the catering industry improve customer experience levels with noise reduction measures.” This is a brilliant approach to an often ignored problem. Kudos to Action on Hearing Loss.
With increasing levels of man-made noise in the environment, animals are having to contend more and more with external stimuli which can draw their attention away from these key tasks. And the consequences of failing to focus on lurking dangers can be deadly.
And for those who wonder why we should worry about the effects of noise pollution on prarie dogs, there is this:
At the end of the day, every species has a finite attention span and, depending upon the source of disturbance and the task at hand, can get distracted. In an increasingly noisy world, this will no doubt have implications for other animals as well as humans.
Noise pollution effects health and well-being. A discussion about controlling the noise around us is long past due.